Freshman Edwards leads Georgia to win over The Citadel
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
Georgia freshman Anthony Edwards and Citadel junior Hayden Brown are both listed as 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds.
And they traded baskets all night in Georgia’s 95-86 win Tuesday, with Edwards scoring 29 and Brown 26, both career highs.
But the similarity ends there.
Edwards will one day, perhaps soon, be plying his trade in the NBA. Brown will probably never play at the highest level.
While Brown showed his prowess as a shooter, Edwards was dazzling the hometown crowd with a wide repertoire of offensive skills that earned him top ranking as a high school recruit and predict a lottery pick future.
“He did a lot of good things tonight for his second college game,” said Georgia coach Tom Crean.
Crean felt the Bulldogs could have pulled away earlier, but they showed their immaturity. Edwards is just 18, and he was one of six freshmen who ate up a lot of minutes.
“We don’t communicate well,” said Crean. “That falls a lot on the upperclassmen. We have some really good guys, but the lack of maturity came out in thinking that we were going to win the game with offense.”
The Citadel outrebounded Georgia 43-36, made its typical dozen 3-pointers, but could never take the lead.
“You’re playing against an NBA guy,” said The Citadel coach Duggar Baucom. “He kind of takes the game over a little bit. We had him shut down in the block, and he kind of got out of the way, and it turned into a 3-point play.”
Georgia (2-0) got 13 points apiece from Donnell Gresham and Tyree Crump and 10 each from Sahvir Wheeler, Rayshaun Hammonds and Amanze Ngumezi.
Kaelon Harris added 16 points and 11 rebounds for The Citadel (0-2). Kaiden Rice scored 10.
Georgia never trailed, but The Citadel was as close as 74-73 with 9:40 to play after Brown hit a 3-pointer to cap an 8-0 run.
But Wheeler hit both ends of a one-and-one, followed by Edwards’ reverse layup, Wheeler’s short jumper, Gresham’s finger-roll and then Gresham’s steal and slam to make it 84-76 with 7:24 to play.
Georgia led from the get-go, though never by more than 10 in the first half, when Edwards and Ngumezi tallied 10 points apiece. For Ngumezi, that equaled his previous career high.
Graduate transfer Gresham nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing with 13:07 to play in the half to make it 15-8 but grad transfer Tyson Batiste hit a short jumper in the lane to draw The Citadel within 21-20 with 9:46 showing on the clock.
But the hometown Bulldogs scored three straight baskets_a transition layup by Hammonds, a 3 from the wing by Crump and a corner 2 by Ngumezi, pushing the lead to 29-21.
Edwards dropped in an NBA-distance 3-pointer at the 1:57 mark to give Georgia its biggest lead of the first half, 45-35. Edwards twice electrified the crowd with dunks off steals, including the last basket of the half that made it 48-40.
Georgia pushed it back to a 10-point margin early in the second half when Gresham converted a 4-point play.
That set the stage for a virtuoso demonstration by Edwards, showing the range of his prodigious skills.
First the freshman weaved through defenders for a layup. Then he drop-stepped for a stop-and-pop jumper, sank a 3 on a transition play and exploded down the lane to take a pass for a dunk. Next, he spread the love with a pass to Crump to set up a 3, before hitting two free throws. In a span of four minutes, he had either scored or assisted on 14-straight points to give Georgia a 74-65 lead.
The margin did not last long as The Citadel generated its 8-0, cutting Georgia’s lead to 74-73.
The Citadel demonstrated that it is still among the best in the nation with its long-range offense, hitting 14 of 33 3-point shots. Over the last four years, no team in the country has made more 3-point shots than the Bulldogs.
Georgia is trying to blend 10 new players, and it was encouraging that the Bulldogs had only eight turnovers. But the lack of maturity is still evident, signified by a willingness at times to stand outside the arc and miss 22 of 29 3-point attempts.
IT’S JUST A NUMBER
Edwards missed a free throw with 58 seconds left that would have given him 30 points. “I don’t care if I had 29 or 30 or 28,” he said. “Unfortunately, I am going to miss free throws. All that matters is we got the win.”
OLD MAN AT 22
Asked if he was fired up by his dunks, the 18-year-old Edwards said, “Dunks always get me going, even by my teammates. Didn’t you see how happy I was when the old man dunked?” he said, pointing to Gresham, who is 22. “Donnell has taught me time management. When we have practice at 3, he is here at 2:15 getting treatment, because he is old.”
After the game, Georgia’s players were told that Kentucky had been upset by Evansville. “By who?” said Edwards.
Georgia had a history of turnovers last year in Crean’s first season and had 15 in the season opener. The Bulldogs had just eight Tuesday, while The Citadel had 22. “SEC talent,” explained Baucom. “They don’t get out and pressure you, but they’re long enough. They reach from behind. They do things that a lot of teams don’t do. They gamble a lot.”
The Citadel returns home Saturday afternoon against Campbell, hoping to find its first win. The Bulldogs won last year 82-76, but it was just the second win in eight tries against Campbell.
Georgia plays its third straight home game Friday when Delaware State visits. The Bulldogs and Hornets have not played each other since Dec. 30, 2011, when Georgia won 58-50 to even the all-time series at two wins apiece.